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International flights to resume in phases, Vande Bharat shows strong demand on US-India route

International flights to resume in phases, Vande Bharat shows strong demand on US-India route

International flights to resume in phases, Vande Bharat shows strong demand on US-India route
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By Anu Sharma  Jun 20, 2020 7:25:29 PM IST (Updated)

International flights are expected to resume in phases once domestic demand picks up and key deciding factors will be traffic on the route, the civil aviation ministry said on Saturday.

International flights are expected to resume in phases once domestic demand picks up and key deciding factors will be traffic on the route, consent of the destination country and entry rules, the civil aviation ministry said on Saturday.

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Currently, India is operating at less than 33 percent of its domestic capacity. The government will wait for the domestic flight operations to reach 50-55 percent of capacity or a daily traffic of around 150,000-160,000 passengers before mulling over the commencement of overseas flights.
"Once our domestic traffic reaches 50-55 percent, let's say when we reach daily traffic levels of 150,000-160,000, we can start thinking about international flights," union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
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The decision will take place on a case by case basis and will depend on the entry conditions of respective countries and traffic scenario, aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said.
"If international operations have to start, both countries (involved) have to be ready, there has to be traffic...these conditions have to be fulfilled then we can think of opening international traffic...Right now we are operating Vande Bharat Mission and we find that there is significant amount of traffic between India and North American continent and it is possible that in future we may think of opening flights on a case to case basis depending on consent of other country and depending on traffic," Kharola added.
The opening up has to be done in a calibrated manner to test demand, check ability in terms of system in place and ease of travel, Puri reiterated further.
Currently, several countries like the US, UK, Brazil, Singapore have conditional entry into their regions while some nations are allowing entry to only their citizens.
Given the current situation, the government is left with no option other than to continue evacuation and repatriation flights under managed and controlled condition, Puri said.
So far, the maximum daily domestic air traffic has been on June 14 at 72, 583, while it started from 30,550 passengers on May 25.
"I am hoping that we will reach 100,000 figure, which is 33 percent figure. So we are not being able to carry out 33 percent domestic travel. But, we will slowly open up a few more routes," Puri said.
International scheduled commercial flights to and from India have been suspended since March 23 due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic flights resumed from May 25 but the government has only allowed 33 percent operations as of now.
"We are watching situation very closely. As demand goes up, we would be ramping up capacity to match the demand. We just want to see to that the demand and supply moves in sync with each other," Kharola said.
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